Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, Unsung Heroes

The Record Vault – A Perfect Circle

It was a 5 skulls out of 5 skulls review in the Hot Metal mag I used to buy, which at this time became known as “HM” as the term “Metal” was uncool to use. And since I’ve always agreed with that reviewer in the past, I forked out the $24 for the debut CD.

Also before I purchased, I knew that Tool vocalist, Maynard Keenen was doing vocals and how guitar technician to the alt-rock bands, Billy Howerdel had all the music written.

“The Hollow” starts the album and the first thing that hooks me is the vocal melodies of Maynard over the soundtrack like music from Howerdel and a song structure which doesn’t really follow convention, like the verses have different music in each verse, while the melody remains the same.

“Judith” has a groove riff which gets the head banging, and when the riff is repeated in the lower registers for the verses, I was ready to break desks. Then when the pre-chorus and chorus kick in, I was trying to break desks, but somehow my kung-fu skills deserted me. And that pre – chorus;

Fuck your God
Your Lord and your Christ
He did this
Took all you had and
Left you this way
Still you pray, you never stray
Never taste of the fruit
You never thought to question why

“Orestes” is my favourite track on the album. The vocal melody from Maynard is like a lead guitar and the drumming in the song, especially in the outro by Josh Freese is a testament in its own right. And when the lead from Billy Howerdel comes in, its like a vocal melody as well.

Gotta cut away, clear away
Snip away and sever this
Umbilical residue that’s
Keeping me from killing you

“3 Libras” has this outro vocal line where Maynard sings “you don’t, you don’t see me” and the octave guitars from Howerdel support it, while drummer Freese continues his improvisation in outros.

“Thomas” is okay, but when that outro comes in from about the 2.49 mark, it elevates the song. “Renholder” has a “Diary Of A Madman” like intro which hooks me. Actually, the band used to merge “Diary Of A Madman” with “Love Song” from The Cure.

“Brena” which when sang is “Brenya” is another one of those atmospheric songs in the verses with a crashing chorus and a vocal line that sounds like a lead instrument. And again, those outros make you want to press repeat.

And the debut album was huge.

Then in 2003, came “Thirteenth Step”. And it was different, even more experimental and progressive. While the debut had the songs nice and concise and around the 4 minute mark, this one had longer songs.

Even the writing was different. The debut album had all the music done, and Maynard just added vocals. On this album, Howerdel was sending music ideas to Maynard while he was on tour with Tool for the excellent “Lateralus” album and they collaborated in that fashion.

“The Package” at 7 minutes in length kicks the album off and it’s a subdued opener, building on drum patterns each minute at a time. It was like a Tool song.

And I’m thinking, where is this all going?

And it’s not until the 4 minute mark that the distortion guitars come crashing in.

When artists follow their own path, and write what they want to write and not what a label A&R rep tells em, well, it’s what I love about music.

After been taken on a different journey with the opener, the “Weak And Powerless” track brings back some familiarity, as it’s a throwback to the debut album.

“The Noose” brings it back to feel of the opening track. But the chorus vocal melody from Maynard gives me goose bumps and sets it apart from the opening track.

“The Outsider” is my favourite track. I used to cover it, in a band I was in, between 2004 and 2005. Musically it was fun to play and the heaviness in the second verse, is head banging stuff.

I also like “Pet” purely for its heaviness in the intro and chorus and the quiet of the verses. And that lyric, “slave to the rhythm of a new world order”.

Then came eMOTIVe, a covers album, but done in a way which is unique to A Perfect Circle.

Like the opening track “Annihilation”, which is a cover from a hardcore band called “Crucifix” however it’s played very quietly via a piano and the vocals are whispered. Then they cover “Imagine” from John Lennon and it stands on its own as A Perfect Circle song.

Elvis Costello’s “Peace Love and Understanding” is unrecognisable by the “APC reinterpretation morphing” machine. Even “Whats Going On” from Marvin Gaye, gets the APC morph.

But the best song on the album is “Passive” which is an original and a co-write with Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails.

And since then, it was a long gap between albums.

Billy Howerdel released a solo album under the band name, “Ashes Divide” which was excellent. Maynard was part of another Tool release in 2006 and then the long wait for a new Tool album started as well (which is scheduled for this year). In between, Maynard had another side project called “Puscifier”.

And the next APC album “Eat The Elephant” came out in 2018 and a few songs stuck out like “The Doomed”. But I havent committed too much time to it.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

The Record Vault – Art Of Dying

I downloaded the “Vices and Virtues” (released in 2011) album via torrents and it connected with me straight away, so I had to have it in my collection.

If I can get through this I can get through anything

It’s a brilliant simple lyric from the song “Get Thru This”. The situation in front of you seems to get the better of you and not in a good way sometimes.

At the time, I had wrecked my foot in an accident and had surgery to put in screws and pins. I had a lot of swelling, limping and physio.

Then all the cartilage grew back, I was walking fine and suddenly the screws and pins started to cause problems. So I was under the blade again to get the pins and screws taken out and again I had more swelling, more limping and more physio.

To top it off, I had an ex band member put in claims with the publisher that they wrote songs which I wrote and somehow the onus was on me to prove it, not on the ones who put in the fake claims. Go figure.

And for some good news my wife told me she was pregnant with our third child.

I am doing the best I can with everything I am, Don’t you know nobody’s perfect,

Do you understand how hard I’m trying to do the best I can

From the song “Best I Can”.

I fear that social media is changing how people act. Facebook either has someone having fun with friends or on a holiday or out and about in town. And the people sitting at home feel they need to respond to that with their own posts of doing the same thing.

So the cycle of being perfect starts and when does it end. Because no one can be perfect forever.

“Die Trying” has a lyric line, “I would rather fail than not know”.

Don’t be scared people to try and fail. It’s the only way you grow and learn and become the person you should be.

An acoustic album came out in 2012, and then there was a four year wait between original music which is way too long in the current market because I lost the band in the noise and in the plethora of releases I was sinking my ears into.

But I did reconnect with the “Nevermore” (Acoustic) EP. I’m interested again, what comes next is up to the band.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

The Labels Say Infringement Is The Issue. Maybe Not.

The labels still focus on infringement and see that as a big issue. Stream ripping sites are getting a lot of attention right now, especially in Australia.

But the shitty way the labels treat the artists who created valuable art “which is worth something” is not an issue to the labels.

Years ago, the labels went to court against artists like Eminem, David Coverdale and Don Henley concerning digital royalties. The labels always paid low royalties on sales of music CDs and vinyl. However, “licensing” music (once upon a time licensing was for movies or commercials only), offered a higher payout to the artist.

The question the artists wanted to know was how is iTunes treated?

The labels said iTunes is a “sale” like a CD sale and the artist is paid the lower royalty rate.

The artists countered that iTunes is a “license,” like for a commercial, as the labels need to license their music to the tech service for the tech service to sell it. This in turn means the artists are meant to be paid the higher royalty rate of up to to 50%.

In the U.S the labels won at the district court level, while the artists won at the appeals court level.

Now this “sales vs license” scenario was relevant up to about 2011 as newer contracts the labels drew up afterwards avoided this problem. Basically, everything is a sale to the labels even the streams from streaming service all so the labels could rip off artists a little bit more.

Not sure if anyone noticed, but Def Leppard was also caught up in this dispute for years with their label, hence the reason why their music wasn’t on any streaming or digital service for a long time. Def Leppard even refuses to let their label license their music until they sorted out the payment issue.

And the big issue here is that the record labels really owe a lot of money to artists but they still put out lies that infringement is the biggest challenge they face while they go to court against the artists. But they still put out the propaganda that when they ask for longer copyright terms, it’s for the artists, when they ask for stream ripping sites to be taken down, it’s also for the artists. Basically everything the labels do is for the artists, except payments.

Furthermore, all the labels know that their power in the market is based on the content they hold. In this case, it’s the songs they hold on behalf of artists.

So the Copyright Act in the U.S gives creators the right to terminate a copyright grant they have given to a corporation after a 35-year period.

And of course there are a lot of artists who created works which ended up becoming very valuable, who want to reclaim their copyrights.

Basically artists who released music up to 1984 have put in claims to get their works back.

Then it will be 1985 releases and before you know it, the 1990s artists will want to their rights back. And if you grew up in this period, you know that there are a lot of great songs that make a lot of money, which the labels don’t want to lose control of and the artists who want to get those songs back under their control.

But the labels will not let it happen without a fight in the courts.

Universal Music Group (UMG) are going to court to dismiss the termination notices served against it. Sony is also trying the same tactic.

And they are using their own interpretation of the law which could bog down the proceedings for years while lawyers argue words in the Act and how they can be interpreted.

And the big thing the labels are sticking with is the “works for hire” principle which worked a treat for the movie studios.

Basically if an employee creates something as a work for hire, it means the employer is the owner of the work and the work can not be terminated. So the labels are basically saying that the artists are employees, which we all know is bullshit, because I am sure the artists didn’t get monies added to a pension fund or holiday pay and what not.

Also when the artist wrote that hit song, it wasn’t because they were an employee of the label, it was because they had an idea, either at band practice, or at soundcheck, or in their hotel room or bedroom.

But hey, I guess power corrupts and always wins. It’s time all of the artists started terminating their rights with the corporations.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Whitesnake – Flesh And Blood

David Coverdale has been releasing music for 45 years. And not just rehashes or remixes of old music (which he is also doing and doing a brilliant job at it, with all the demos and works in progress recordings), but new music as well.

I didn’t think I would enjoy “Flesh And Blood”, as I didn’t really get into “Forevermore”, expect for the title track and I can’t really remember a track from “Good To Be Bad”. But on “Flesh And Blood”, Reb Beach and Joel Hoekstra deliver, and along with Coverdale, they wrote some good tunes.

Now if you are picking this up to hear Coverdale sing like he did in the 80’s, it ain’t gonna happen. His voice has aged and he sings to his constraints.

“Shut Up And Kiss Me” has got some serious riffage (the song is written by Reb Beach and David Coverdale) and as I mentioned, DC’s vocals are changing as he gets older, he still delivers a sleazy bluesy verse and an anthemic chorus. But it’s the music which hooks me in, and that section with the lyric line “when you stand close to me” is perfect.

“Hey You (You Make Me Rock)” also has some serious riffage. This one is written by Reb Beach, Joel Hoekstra and David Coverdale. The verses have this “When The Levee Breaks” groove which is addictive and DC’s vocals sound psychedelic as he builds up into another anthemic chorus. And the lead break on this one, is as good as any lead break from the 87 album.

“Always and Forever” is written by David Coverdale. The harmony guitars and the vocal delivery remind me of Thin Lizzy, and the connection to another artist, elevates the song straight away in my book.

“When I Think Of You (Colour Me Blue)” reminds me of “Wonderful Tonight” from Eric Clapton. And again, the connection to a previous song, elevates this song. Kudos to David Coverdale for letting his influences shine through.

“Trouble Is Your Middle Name” is written by David Coverdale and Joel Hoekstra and the opening riff is enough to hook me in, while police sirens scream in the background.

How much trouble could this woman be?

And that guitar solo in the song. You need to hear it to appreciate it.

“Flesh And Blood” reminds me of “Don’t Tread” from Damn Yankees and the riffage is brilliant and the lead breaks are AAA rated.

One thing that a lot of people probably don’t know is that Coverdale is a good guitarist who has created some of the most iconic riffs ever.

You know that main riff in “Mistreated” from Deep Purple, well that was David Coverdale. You know those riffs in “Crying In The Rain”, yep, that’s David Coverdale as well. And there are many more.

“Well I Never” is another tune written by Coverdale and Hoekstra, which sounds as good as any pop song out these days.

“Heart Of Stone” is written by Coverdale and it’s a modern sounding ballad.

“Sands of Time” is written by Reb Beach and Coverdale and it’s Arabic sounding influence will draw comparisons to “Kashmir” from Led Zeppelin, but man, this song is its own beast and one of the best Whitesnake tracks out there.

Lyrically, DC does what he normally does, talking about love and relationships.

But it’s the band that rocks, and the song writing that DC does with just Reb Beach, then with Joel Hoekstra and then with both and also by himself is what makes this album a varied and enjoyable listen.

I remember reading that Vivian Campbell left Whitesnake, because he saw that DC was only interested in writing with Adrian Vandenberg for the “Slip Of The Tongue” album. Then when Doug Aldrich joined, the “Good To Be Bad” and “Forevermore” album had song writing just by DC and Aldrich.

For this one it’s back to 1984 and before versions of Whitesnake, with DC writing songs on his own as well and with DC writing songs with the other members, like the good old days.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

The Record Vault – Apocalyptica

It was their Metallica covers which hooked me in and being a Metallica fan, their interpretation provided me with a greater appreciation for James Hetfield and his vocal melodies.

So “Plays Metallica By Four Cellos” is an excellent CD.

I then purchased the album “Cult” because I saw the song “Fight Fire With Fire” on the track list and I was like, “are you serious”, they covered this song with cellos. Curiosity was enough to get me to hand over cash. Plus they had “Until It Sleeps” as well, so it was a no brainer.

The first thing was the updated production and the distortion on the cellos on some sections. And the next thing is that these guys can write good originals. And finally, this band made me appreciate how haunting and epic “Until It Sleeps” really is. You need to hear it, to understand what I mean. And finally, finally, they pulled off “Fight Fire With Fire” at break neck speeds on cellos.

Since then I‘ve heard a few songs on other albums. “I Don’t Care” with Adam Gontier on vocals is an excellent track with a whole band along with the cellos.

And Spotify has their whole history on it. Enjoy it.

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Copyright, Derivative Works, Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

In Copyright We Invest

Music makes money because people form their own unique connection to a melody, a riff, a beat or a lyric. It’s personal and each connection is different. As a by product of this connection, we spend money on music. And when the ‘we’ in the equation is over 200 million people worldwide, you sort of understand the volume of dollars in play.

And the organizations who hold the rights to popular songs benefit a lot from those songs. Next time you hear “Eye Of The Tiger” from Survivor, there is a pension fund around the world which benefits.

You see the Michigan Pension Funds have invested in a music publishing company called Concord Music which is advertised as “owning” a lot of copyrighted works (like close to 400,000 songs). And when those songs it “owns” are played, Concord gets paid the royalties and the state pension fund benefits. 

But, isn’t Copyright meant to benefit the creator and give them an incentive to create more art. As the article states;

The state initially invested $25 million in Concord Music, and as the investment team got more comfortable, put a total of $1.1 billion into the company. The market value of their investment today is $1.8 billion, representing $700 million in profit.  

If the pension fund made $700 million in profit, how much profit would Concord Music make as the holders/keepers of the Copyright and then how much would go to the creators. Hell the creators can’t even get their rights back under their own control, even though the law states they can after 30 years.

And while all of these dollars from music are going to organizations who contribute nothing to music, CD Baby (another organization) is teaming up with Audible Magic (another organization) to scan the audio artists put up, against its library of 30 million tracks. If the uploaded song matches another track or it has “potentially” copyright-infringing content based on a computer algorithm, then CD Baby can decline to upload the file.

I wonder if CD Baby and Audible Magic are aware that music fans like songs that sound similar to other songs. I can’t even start describing how many songs have an Em, C, G, D chord progression, with melodies which sound similar, so I’m not sure why CD Baby is wasting money they earn from artists to pay an IT company which is looking to be purchased by these kinds of organizations.

And you know that Copyright is out of control when the law suppresses online music teachers, who in most cases teach people for free.

Queue up Warner Music Group, who seem hellbent to takedown everything online and then like all of the other labels, when they are served with termination notices from the artists, they go to court to fight these notices.

But, I am sure the labels would still be pushing the same lines of needing stronger copyright.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories

The Record Vault – Audioslave

The combination was interesting. Rage Against The Machine and Soundgarden.

I have a few RATM albums as I do like the music and the lyrics, but Im not a fan of rapping. From Soundgarden, I also have a few albums purely because of Cornell’s voice.

Plus Tom Morello was always in the Guitar mags and he came across great in interviews, offering tips, viewpoints and he didn’t put shit on anyone, even mentioned his love of Randy Rhoads and why he started to use the digital effects tools at his disposal.

So the thought of Morello and Cornell teaming up was very interesting.

And the debut album (released in 2002) is excellent up to “Like A Stone” (which I used to cover in bands) and then it became to repetitive. But still a cool listen.

And how good is “Cochise”?

It’s a great opener bringing that 70s groove into the two thousands and I was hooked straight away when Cornell’s Led Zep inspired vocals came in.

“Out Of Exile” came out three years later and “Revelations” a year after “Out of Exile”.

If you heard the debut, you didn’t need to own these albums. “Moth” is the only song I remember.

I basically played em once on Cd and never played em again (but hey the record label sold a CD to me so I must be a fan of these albums). And today I streamed em once and will probably never stream em again.

But if any of these albums were your first exposure to Audioslave, then it would serve as a good introduction.

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